He walked in the door. Little feet came running with tiny fingers reaching. Nudging aside a few toys strewn across his path, he made his way to the couch. Little feet followed, their voices tumbling over each other as they fought for his attention. He picked up the oldest for cuddles as the littlest ran off. The littlest returned, struggling to drag him a rocking horse before pounding a tiny fist on his leg. He released the oldest despite protests and gathered up the littlest, mind whirling with tiny voices of complaint and excitement, eyes flicking back and forth.
“Character Symptoms” was this week’s prompt for the Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge.
I struggled to find something for this prompt. I think it’s mostly because my expectations were too high. I wanted to write something interesting, something different. I started a piece based on a scene I’m currently working on for my novel, with the hope of learning something more about the characters themselves.
It had an awesome Sci-Fi feel, high-tech and everything. I wanted to represent the perspective of a reformed ex-felon in a high-stakes situation from someone else’s POV…That piece felt forced.
I scrapped it.
This, on the other hand, is something I see almost every day—if he gets home before their bedtime—and it’s another piece written from a tender place.
“Character Symptoms” is such a broad topic. Initially I had no idea how to interpret this prompt.
I didn’t want to write about just anything; I wanted to write about something deeper than the usual things the news makes society stress about; I didn’t want to write about superficial things.
Being a parent is one of the great honours of life. Being a parent in today’s society is also unnaturally stressful.
As a parent you want to provide the best for your children and in today’s society, the best always seems to cost inordinate amounts of money. To make that money, one must work. One must work long hours in most cases.
We are lucky in that I am able to be stay-at-home with our little ones, but on the same note, my other half; their dad’s mind is on work for most hours of every day. He carries a lot of responsibilities in order to have the job stability he currently has; his workplace would struggle without him, and thus, there is a lot he must manage and keep on top of.
This means that when he gets home, and is lucky enough to see the little ones for an hour or two before their bed, though they may be super excited to see him and suddenly filled with an abundance of little person energy, his mind is still whirling from the seriousness of his job.
Though he is home, there are things that he can still solve for work if only he used that extra time to continue thinking on issues. If he’s not giving his job all of his efforts, then he doesn’t feel like he’s doing the best he can, and thus shouldn’t have the position or the privileges that come with it.
Unfortunately, his mind becomes so overworked—and I’m sure that most of society can relate—he struggles to make himself emotionally available and present for the little ones.
Every morning he leaves and his heart breaks as they beg him not to go, to stay just a little longer and read them a book or give them extra cuddles. And he can’t even promise that he’ll see them that night.
There are too many stresses in today’s society; you either work and sacrifice precious time together, or you struggle financially and stress about your child’s opportunities instead.
It’s a fine line between managing your time between work and family life. A stress that I think is inevitable; though I do hope more and more families are feeling equipped enough to discover their own balance, and confident enough to make the changes, trusting in their love for their partner and children.
Once again, I’m finding that love comes into play in life. It seems to be the defining factor between the strong and the struggling. Whether it’s love for and from your family or love for yourself. That honest, unconditional love, that forgives human mistakes, can help in almost every situation.
The more of society who understand this concept will mean less stress for all; people will be making better choices for the benefit of everyone, rather than fearing and trying to maintain their own survival in this stressful world.
It’s tough and heartbreaking at times, but worth it.